Parrots aren’t known for rolling over and asking to be petted. Likewise, your pet parrot may never want to snuggle up with you on the sofa. This can leave owners believing that their pet will always be aloof, just because it’s a bird. On the contrary, depending on your parrot’s species, lifestyle, and personality, it may be very cuddly. In the wild, parrots are affectionate with each other and show their love in various ways.
Parrots like to cuddle by rubbing their beaks against you, trying to groom your skin and hair, and sitting close to you. Most parrots don’t snuggle up in your lap, but they will enjoy nestling against your throat or under your hair. Parrots that like to cuddle the most are the conures, parrotlets, cockatiels, quaker parrots, African grey parrots, and budgies. You will also see this in breeds like cockatoos, hyacinth macaws, and lovebirds.
Not every parrot is cuddly, even if its breed is well-known for it. Some will naturally be aloof and refuse to cuddle altogether, just because that’s in the parrot’s character. Others will warm up to the prospect of cuddling after several months of bonding and trust. If you want to make your parrot cuddly, be sure to spend time with it and keep it healthy. Parrots that are well-fed, have large cages, and get to play with their owners are more likely to cuddle.
Are Parrots Affectionate?
Parrots are highly social creatures that form strong, life-long bonds. As such, it’s no surprise that these intelligent birds are also very affectionate. In the wild, parrots choose a mate for life and show affection by:
- Protecting the mate
- Foraging with the mate
- Grooming the mate
- Playing with the mate
- Feeding the mate
- Spending more time with the mate than any other bird
Parrots are also affectionate with other members of their flock. Even if the parrot isn’t interacting with its favorite, it will still groom, forage, and play with other flock-mates. Even if they bicker now and then, parrots make up quickly. As long as they aren’t crowded or stressed, parrots can befriend almost anyone.
In your home, a pet parrot will give this love and care to you. These intelligent birds learn to care for and trust their owners, so long as they’re well-fed, given plenty of enrichment, and earn a large portion of your attention. The larger and cleaner their environment is, the more responsive they will be.
Do All Parrots Cuddle?
Of course, not all parrots are instant cuddle-bugs. Some are known as low-maintenance and aloof. They still form strong bonds with their human companions and show affection. However, they’re less likely to cuddle with you and show other physical gestures of love.
The individual personality of your bird and its temperament plays a huge role. Some birds just don’t like being physically affectionate. Instead of cuddling, they will seek out your time and attention. This will include calling, singing, and flying to you. They’ll be responsive to training and happy to see you. Even if they don’t snuggle up and start grooming, you’re still their favorite person.
High-energy parrots, like budgies, are just more likely to cuddle. By their nature, they’re more willing to snuggle, rub their beaks on you, and demand your full attention. It’s a part of their character, and it won’t take much encouragement to make them cuddly.
How Do Parrots Show Affection To Humans?
According to the International Society for Anthrozoology, birds are one of the most common animal companions in the United States. This is because of their affectionate nature and long lifespans.
After all, you can get a friend that will stick with you for decades. You can also form stronger emotional bonds with a creature that can mimic speech and pick up more complex tricks. According to Anthrozoös, pet birds are often able to fulfill the social needs of their human owners through affection, vocalization, and interaction.
Of course, parrots also show affection in their own unique ways. These gestures don’t always mirror the tactics that humans use to show fondness. Because of that, owners may overlook subtle (or even gross) gestures of love from a parrot. These include a parrot:
- Rubbing its beak on you
- Nipping gently at your skin
- Singing or making noises at you
- Seeking out your company
- Regurgitating food onto you
Cuddling and Kissing
One of the most common ways parrots show affection is through nuzzling. The parrot may cozy up to your neck and rub its beak against you. It will even ‘kiss’ by pecking lightly at your skin, without pressure. This is a grooming habit that parrots reserve for people (and birds) that they like.
Parrots will usually try to cuddle or kiss your face. They are intelligent enough to know that, because of the placement of your eyes and mouth, this is where you perceive them. It will be the same as when parrots nuzzle or groom each other’s faces. Because the face is such a delicate area, especially for birds, this is a huge sign of trust and affection. The parrot knows it won’t be harmed, or harm you, by invading this space.
Calling and Noises
Parrots develop special calls for their loved ones. These contact calls range from a squawk to a scream, and are designed to check that their companion is close and safe. The longer you ignore the parrot, the louder it will call. That makes it important to pop in and say you’re okay when you can.
On the other hand, cooing, singing, or purring to you indicates just how much your parrot cares. Purring is the most surprising aspect of noise-making, since parrots can truly sound like a cat.
Parrots are naturally vocal pets. The more noise they make that’s directed toward you, the better.
Nips and Movements
Parrots that want to show affection will move their mouths often. This may look like:
- Beak fluttering
- Sticking out the tongue
- Clicking the mouth
- Moving its tongue around multiple times
Parrots also grind their beaks to show that they’re relaxed. The state of relaxation only exists for a parrot when it’s content around you and happy in its home.
Gentle nips (not bites) are only given to creatures that the parrot likes. If the parrot considers you a trusted friend, it will try to get your attention with a small peck. It won’t hurt, and will only have a small amount of pressure.
Regurgitation is a sign of fondness for a parrot. In the wild, parrots feed their young, their mates, and their closest friends this way. Of course, as a human, having food regurgitated on you is strange and unwarranted, so remain vigilant for cues.
Most of the time, a parrot will start to regurgitate once it has been given a specific cue. This will include a head bob, extending its neck, and a small gag sound. You should discourage the habit, but instead of getting upset, realize that the parrot is trying to offer you food. Parrots only feed each other when they feel closely bonded.
Showing trust is one of the greatest signs of affection. Even aloof parrots will show that they trust, value, and care about their owners when they:
- Sleep on you
- Preen you
- Flap their wings whenever they spot you
Most of these actions are reserved for a parrot’s favorite companion in the wild. Mates that trust each other will exchange grooming rituals and take shifts napping.
Lovebirds are a prime example. They easily take the bond normally placed on other birds and transfer it to a human owner. You’ll find this species eager to sleep in your shirt or preen your hair.
Most Cuddly Parrots
All in all, parrots are affectionate so long as they’re closely bonded with you. However, some parrots are more likely to show that love through cuddling than others.
In the wild, parrots do not roll over, snuggle in each other’s laps, or sleep in dog piles. Because of that, cuddling is limited for parrots and takes a unique form. This usually involves:
- Nuzzling against your throat
- Hiding in your shirt
- Playing with your hair
- Bumping you with a beak
If you want a parrot that can show its affection in these ways, then you’re in luck. These highly cuddly parrots are the most likely to hop onto your shoulder, cozy up to your neck, and keep you company:
Friendly and cuddly, conures have large personalities that can, at times, make them rather loud. Considered smart parrots, conures are better suited for an experienced owner that is able to give them time, entertainment, and attention.
These little birds have many favorite ways to show off affection toward one another and their owners. Conures love to preen your hair or beard. They’re not shy about giving a love-bite or two.
In the wild, conures stay close to their flock, even cuddling one another. That makes it important for them to do the same with their owner. If you don’t like the parrot tucking itself underneath your hair, then be sure to let it cuddle in other ways. For some owners, this includes making a little pouch in their shirt where the parrot can hide.
Making noise is another favorite of the conure. Over their 30-year lifespan, conures will use various sounds to express their emotions. They will show love by:
- Contact calling
- Cooing to their owner
If they feel close enough to their owner, they might even regurgitate food as a way of sharing. You can train this habit out of your pet, but the parrot will find other ways to show that it cares.
Native to Peru and Ecuador, parrotlets are one of the smallest parrot species. They are the perfect companion for those who live in apartments or with close neighbors, as they are quiet by nature.
This little gem of a parrot comes in a variety of different colors, and can even learn to speak. Just don’t let the quiet parrot fool you. Without proper handling, this species will become unruly.
With a lifespan of up to 30 years, the pocket parrot has ample time to form a strong bond with you. This species likes to show affection by:
- Making noises
In fact, anyone who wants to get a parrotlet needs to be prepared for the time investment. The parrot will need at least 4 hours a day of playing and love.
A cockatiel is a medium-sized parrot native to Australia. It has a large, outgoing personality and distinct coloring. Cockatiels love to socialize and show off their skills through:
- Head bobbing
- Hanging upside down
- Wagging their tails
These birds are considered very expressive. They love to show their affection through various movements and songs. Once they develop a strong bond with their owner, they will do whatever is necessary to get your attention.
A unique aspect of the cockatiel is the crest atop its head. This is a good indicator of the parrot’s current mood. A pressed-down crest means that the parrot is on guard or feeling hostile. When it’s standing upright, it feels suspicious.
Watching the changes in the parrot’s crest will help form a loving bond. You will know how to approach your parrot at any given time.
Cockatiels get nervous in unfamiliar environments, but they come out of their shells once they’ve had time to adapt. A lifespan of up to 30 years provides them enough time to learn to speak. However, their favorite habit is to mimic sounds from their environment. If your cockatiel begins whistling your favorite song, especially to you, then it’s showing love.
Also known as monk parrots, the Quaker originates from South America. Intelligent and social, Quakers are active birds that bond closely with their owners. They adore cuddles and scratches, and hate being left alone for prolonged periods of time. Their intelligence allows them to pick up words quickly.
In the wild, these parrots live in large flocks, with one huge nest divided up into smaller sections. This creates an apartment-like habitat for the entire family. When they’re domesticated, quaker parrots share this bond with their human family. They show (and require) vast amounts of affection to thrive.
When upset, these parrots become noisy and disruptive, going so far as to pluck out their own feathers as a sign of protest. Territorial and fearless, quaker parrots adapt well to family life, but enjoy being the only pet, getting all the attention they need.
With their small stature and varied diet, they are easy companions for families that have the time to give. You’ll find this species eager to:
- Sit on your shoulder
- Preen your hair
- Stay well within your line of sight
African Grey Parrot
African grey parrots are highly social. As the most intelligent of all domesticated parrots, they readily mimic sounds and talk. They also develop powerful bonds with their owners. However, they need puzzles, play sessions, and your undivided attention to stay happy.
African greys have been known to reach more than 50 years in age. This makes them a lifetime commitment. They will show their affection by spending time with their owners.
They will preen, coo, and mimic their owners as a sign of trust. Since they love spending time with one person, African greys enjoy remaining perched on your shoulder, keeping away anyone they’re not familiar with.
Budgies, sometimes called parakeets, are widely popular throughout the world. With proper care, these parrots are well tamed and affectionate. Once they’ve formed a strong enough bond, they will:
- Even purr
They are outgoing by nature, but this energy will become even stronger around their favorite person. This is shown clearly in their willingness to cuddle. In fact, the parrot may even refuse to stay perched on your finger. Instead, it will scale up your arm and tuck itself against your neck.
Once there, budgies like to pick at earrings and tug at hair. This preening behavior allows them to help you ‘groom,’ which shows trust and love. Budgies are highly social and live in flocks of 200+ birds at a time. As such, when they’re kept in the home, they will need a great deal of attention from their owners.
Budgies are known as playful and a little stubborn. A natural way of teasing each other in a flock is to steal food, toys, and irritate one another. This doesn’t go over well if the budgie is paired with a different species of parrot that doesn’t get the joke. With a person, however, and the right amount of training, budgies will bring this playfulness to you. They can learn to play fetch and toil away at puzzles for hours.
Cockatoos are known for their fancy mohawks and fall into the most-affectionate parrot category. Funny, impish, and sociable, cockatoos are a great addition to any home environment. These outgoing birds need a lot of daily attention. They cannot thrive without it, and are otherwise prone to stress.
Affectionate and easy to train, a cockatoo’s behavior is much like a dog’s. Prepare for having a smart, high-maintenance addition to your home. For the parrot to thrive and receive all the attention it needs, you must spend at least 4 hours a day with it. Cockatoos need to explore outside of their cage, play with toys, and interact with you.
A cockatoo’s need for attention makes it very loving. Once properly bonded, cockatoos are loyal throughout their impressive lifespan. Keeping them at home means providing a large and rather indestructible cage, along with toys and other enrichment objects. These items are vital to keeping the parrot entertained for the rest of the day, when it’s not physically glued to you.
Even a cockatoo’s food has to be reflective of its outgoing nature. Seeds, nuts, coconuts are a good source of nutrition, but also keep the parrot occupied. When not eating or sleeping, expect the parrot to sit with you throughout most of the day. It will love to stay close to its favorite person.
These gorgeous parrots are the largest of their kind, reaching over 40 inches in length. Considered very sociable, they love spending time with their owners. During this time, they prefer to:
- Sit on your shoulder
- Follow you around the house, gliding from place to place
- Talk and sing to you
- Make contact calls whenever you’re out of sight
- Dance and bob with you
They are often considered the great dane of the parrot world. Not only are they outgoing and social; they can become destructive if left alone for too long. To help with training and enrichment, hyacinths need lots of wooden toys and branches. This will help curb their chewing habits.
Even with plenty of enrichment toys, hyacinths need to spend ample time outside of their cage. This should be matched with strict training routines. Because they’re so intelligent, hyacinths can become excellent friends, so long as they’re given a strong relationship with their owners.
If provided with their ideal 8 hours of attention each day, hyacinths are very loyal. They will prefer their owner above everyone else, and get excited when they see you. You may find the parrot dancing, singing, or flapping its wings each time you enter the room.
Contrary to popular belief, lovebirds don’t need a companion in their cage to remain happy. Instead, they’re capable of bonding tightly with owners, so long as they’re given the right amount of time and affection. These little parrots are usually no more than 8 inches in length. This makes it easy to place a lovebird on your shoulder and go about your day.
During this time, the lovebird will snuggle up to your neck, tuck itself into your hair, or even hide in your shirt. These parrots can get spunky if they’re not well-trained. They may remove your jewelry, tug at your hair, or even peck at your face. However, this is usually a cry for attention or a playful way to gain your undivided focus. Lovebirds become well-behaved if given 4-6 hours of your time each day.
Most of all, lovebirds show affection by chattering and whistling. Yours will squeak and sing as it explores the home with you, perched happily on your shoulder. Even if you place it somewhere else, the lovebird will eagerly fly back to its favorite perch: you. With a lifespan of around 20 years, they provide companionship for decades.
Unfortunately, these are very territorial birds. Lovebirds attach themselves to either their owner or another bird. With this comes a tendency to show jealousy toward any other pet in the household. When buying a lovebird, remember to keep up training, daily socializing, and positive reinforcement.
Why Isn’t My Parrot Affectionate?
Even if you get a cuddly parrot breed, you may find it’s not interested in snuggling. This will depend on:
- The parrot’s temperament
- How socialized the parrot is
- How healthy the parrot is
- If the parrot has a large enough cage and a balanced diet
- If the parrot gets enough of your attention
- If the parrot trusts you
You Don’t Spend Enough Time With It
A parrot’s intelligence means it’s able to form loving, complex bonds. However, this also means you can’t ‘fool’ a parrot into liking you. Your pet may not be affectionate if it:
- Doesn’t see you often
- Doesn’t get to play with you regularly
- Hasn’t been well-trained
You’ve Damaged Its Trust
Likewise, parrots value their bonds and take any break of trust very seriously. Your pet may stop being affectionate if:
- You’ve startled the parrot by accident
- You haven’t been feeding it a balanced diet
- You gave it a small cage and won’t let it out often
This will reduce how cuddly the parrot is willing to be around you.
You’re Not The Favorite
Parrots are very choosy. If you share the responsibility of caring for the parrot with a family member or roommate, the parrot may choose a favorite. It will be more willing to cuddle with this person over anyone else. If that person isn’t you, then it may not seem as affectionate as you hoped.
The Parrot Doesn’t Think You’re A Good Perch
There can also be benign reasons for your parrot’s refusal to cuddle. For example, you may be wearing strong perfume or deodorant that the parrot dislikes. If you move too quickly while the parrot sits on your shoulder, it may be startled or too alert to relax and cuddle. It may even be feeling under the weather, and in no mood to snuggle.
It’s Not In The Parrot’s Nature
It’s possible that your parrot just isn’t the cuddly type. No matter its species, it may not be in your pet’s personality to snuggle up for love. If this is the case, you can attempt to strengthen your bond with the parrot and see if it warms up. If not, that may simply be in your parrot’s nature. Instead, learn how to share affection with the parrot in other ways, such as through hand feeding or games.